Taking action to safeguard students’ rights to freedom of expression, the full Assembly on Thursday advanced legislation to guarantee the rights of student journalists to freedom of speech and the press. The bill passed 74-0.
The goal of this bill is to address growing concerns surrounding challenges to journalism nationwide and protect the rights of students in media to exercise freedom of expression without fear of their work being constrained.
The measure (A-169) would require public school districts to adopt policies regarding freedom of expression to provide guidance to student journalists and their advisors. It would not protect expressions which are libelous, invade privacy, violate State or federal laws or incite students to create danger to commit unlawful acts, violate school policies or substantially disrupt a school’s orderly operation.
Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), sponsor of the bill, released the following statement:
“At a young age, we teach our children to value the freedom of speech and the press. We encourage them to be free-thinking individuals who use these rights to raise their voices and engage in the democratic process. These rights should not be unreasonably restricted when they walk through the school doors.
“This legislation will codify this well-established legal principle into New Jersey law, providing broad protection for student journalists to express their views constructively.”